Fifth annual Young Alumni Essay Contest results

Author: Sarah Cahalan '14

In a solitary stay on a mountaintop, the vibrant beauty of nature shows the explorer a side of the world that cannot be glimpsed in the bustle of cities below. Austin Hagwood '15 recounts his experiences as a fire lookout in Montana's Bitterroot Mountains in his essay "The lookout," which won first place in this magazine's fifth annual Young Alumni Essay Contest.

Editors spent a day reading the entries in the 2017 contest and selected the winners after follow-up readings and discussions. The names of the authors were not attached to the essays and were not revealed until after the winning entries were chosen.

Hagwood’s first-place essay and four second-place essays written by John DiTillo, Erin Ramsey-Tooher, Steven Salido Fisher and William Kearney appear in this issue’s CrossCurrents section. The five honorable-mention essays will appear at in the coming weeks.

The winning 2017 contest essays and their authors:

First place ($500 prize):

"The lookout," Austin Hagwood '15

Second places ($250 prize):

"River town," John DiTillo '08, '15M.A.

"Between these walls," Erin Ramsey-Tooher '09

"Snow, rock and flesh," Steven Salido Fisher '16

"The foolish father," William Kearney '08

Honorable mentions ($50 prize):

"Narratives," Mary-Kate Burns '16

"The last letter," Grace Chiarella '14

"Home in the heartland," Sara Felsenstein '12

"The wedding gift," Maya Jain '17

"In lieu of a response," Ellen Roof '15